You know those moments when you’re speaking with someone and the conversation is completely cordial, but you come away with the feeling that something was off? You probably received a few strange, nonverbal cues which signaled that the words being said didn’t match the vibe of the conversation: Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal.
As strange as it may sound, you should practice your body language cues – and not just your interview answers – before a big interview. While a firm handshake and a genuine smile will go a long way, there are a few body language habits you need to toss aside in order to connect with an employer. See if you’re exhibiting any of the behaviors below that are known for turning off your interviewer.
While many of us consider crossing our arms to be a natural, relaxed pose (or something to just do with your arms), this position is often interpreted as defensive and even resistant. In a setting as intimate as a one-on-one interview, you want to make sure you open yourself up and seem accepting, ready to absorb the information and the questions that come your way.
Instead, place your hands in your lap and use a few explanatory gestures so that you won’t seem too stiff or closed off.
Avoiding eye contact
It’s tough interacting with people in a new and stressful scenario–especially if you’re shy, but failing to look an employer in the eye signals a lack of confidence and even a lack of interest. Not only that, but it’s distracting: The interviewer will be too busy wondering what’s going on just over his shoulder because your eyes are darting all over the place.
Make eye contact with your interviewer during the conversation to let him or her know that you’re intently listening (but don’t stare the interviewer down). When it’s your turn to speak, try to pretend you’re talking to a family friend: This should help you to be formal, comfortable and confident when you’re speaking.
Whether you’ve got busy hands or restless legs, fidgeting is often used to calm you down in an uncomfortable situation – meaning you’re giving yourself away as nervous or out of place during your interview. In a professional world that relies heavily on the “cultural fit” of candidates, looking like you’ve got one foot out the door won’t signal that the environment – or the people – are the right match for you.
Try to be conscientious of your fidgeting habits and do what you can to minimize them: For example, if you know that you have a tendency to fiddle with jewelry, leave the large bracelets and necklaces at home when you dress for your interview.
Syncing up your body language and your verbal communication paints a consistent picture of the positive energy you want to give off during your interview. Do what you can to ensure that you come across as open, comfortable and confident so that your interviewer will easily see the best (and more natural!) version of you.